Qld RAAF crews help repatriate volcano victims

TWO defence aircraft from the Amberley air base with medical equipment and specialist crew on board arrived in Christchurch late yesterday to assist in the repatriation of Australians injured in the White Island volcanic eruption.

The C-17 Globemasters, along with a C-130 Hercules aircraft based at RAAF Richmond, northwest of Sydney, have been deployed to transfer up to 10 injured Australians to burns units in Sydney and Melbourne.

 

No 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron personnel at RAAF Richmond prepare medical equipment to load onto a C-130 Hercules before a mission to repatriate Australians injured in the White Island volcanic eruption.
No 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron personnel at RAAF Richmond prepare medical equipment to load onto a C-130 Hercules before a mission to repatriate Australians injured in the White Island volcanic eruption.

Two Brisbane hospitals with specialist burns units remain on standby to treat people injured in the blast but so far no Queenslanders have been identified as among the injured.

The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and the Queensland Children's Hospital are considered among the best burns units in the country but authorities are trying to repatriate Australians back to hospitals as close to their homes as possible to assist in their recovery.

Lisa Fawcett, operations director for the RBWH's mental health Service, said patients having support from family, carers and loved ones following a trauma was considered important in their recovery.

"We all repair much faster when our mental well being is being managed," Ms Fawcett said. "If you're isolated, then your mental health is not going to be ideal because you don't have the level of support that you require to work through your distress.

"It's not just the trauma of the actual incident itself, with burns, it's also the physical and physiological changes. There's the trauma of your outward-looking self and how that has changed and the psychological impact that goes along with that. Everyone around you has to adjust to how you present differently."

 

Victims of the disaster, in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, are said to have experienced deep-tissue burns and significant damage to their lungs from breathing in sulfur dioxide and volcanic ash.

Rescuers have said survivors of the volcanic eruption on Monday ran into the sea to escape the scalding steam and ash and emerged covered in burns.



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